Sage and his wife, Rocky, are Ohio natives and entrepreneurs. In 2010, they bought a commercial building at 15 Broad Street in the Middlebury section of Akron. The area surrounding their building is dominated by commercial and non-single-family uses. A tire store, mattress store, fire station, and church are nearby. The church operates low-income senior-citizen apartments next to 15 Broad, and a low-income housing complex is under construction across the street.
Sage never expected to be helping Akron’s homeless. In fact, he befriended them by accident. In 2015, Sage ran for Akron mayor as an independent and needed hundreds of signatures to get on the ballot. 1 As he walked the streets asking for signatures, Sage learned the stories of the homeless. They stopped being stereotypes and became real people with understandable, often heartbreaking, struggles. This was a life-changing experience, and Sage started hiring the homeless to help him with his auctioneering business at 15 Broad. He next gave them permission to open a thrift store peddling unsold items from the auctions. All proceeds went to the homeless themselves. Step by step, a community coalesced around Sage’s building and his and his wife Rocky’s willingness to help.
Sage Lewis is using his commercial property to build a community for those experiencing homelessness, with the hope of helping them transition from the streets to permanent housing. The city of Akron is attempting to…